1st Edition

Why We Build With Brick

By Felicity Cannell Copyright 2023
    216 Pages 23 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the contemporary fired clay brick to explore themes of home and house, homeownership, materiality, and sense of place. It investigates why, despite an increasing number of alternative materials, brick remains at the forefront of what people, in the UK in particular, expect homes to be built of, and how brick is indelibly entwined with what home means – something materially stable and financially secure, affording a located sense of place. Through observation of the building process and interviews with bricklayers, foremen, planners, developers, and homebuyers in England, Felicity Cannell traces the embedded meanings of a mundane, ubiquitous artefact, and reveals the tensions and contradictions in today’s use of brick to signify the traditional home. Although easing the planning process and leading to quick sales, the way brick is used in mass market housing today considerably restricts its capacities, notably decoration, flexibility, and strength: the very qualities which have historically positioned this tremendously versatile material as the superlative building block. Overall, the book adds complexity to the study of home and prompts debate about why we build the way we do.


    1 Building House as Home

    2 A History of Bricks in the Building of the English Home

    3 The Craft and the Graft

    4 Owning Home: homeownership and the brick-built house

    5 Material Meanings: the social life of brick in residential housing

    6 A Sense of Place or a Sense of Space? How the brick maintains a ‘traditional’ vision of English suburban housing

    7 Building with Brick: An Assemblage

    Conclusion: final comments



    Felicity Cannell has a PhD in Geography from the University of Sheffield, UK. She has worked as a journalist and in higher education and is now predominantly a builder.